The bounce will worry Sri Lanka
By Marlon Fernandopulle
Sri Lanka's 17 member squad will leave for a two tests and five one day tour to South Africa tomorrow with the intention of acquiring the much needed exposure and experience ahead of next years World Cup which is also scheduled in South Africa in February next year.

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Sri Lanka could not ask for a better time to tour the African continent. With the countdown for the 8th World Cup already in progress and Sri Lanka scheduled to play four of their five first round games in South Africa (including against the host nation) Sanath Jayasuriya's team has been provided with an excellent opportunity to prepare for the big event.

The two tests against the strong South Africans will be a testing time for the Lankans who have packed their squad with Youth. Although the Lankans have enjoyed success in the one dayers in Morocco and the ICC Knockout Championship lately their test record away from home is far from impressive. On the last occasion they were beaten by England 2-0 and will be keen to erase that defeat as they face up to the South Africans.

The onus will once again be on the batsmen who will be up against bowlers of genuine pace on fast and bouncy tracks. It will be up to the experienced Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Hashan Tilakaratne and Russel Arnold to lead the way. All of them have demonstrated the ability in the past to counter this type of fast bowlers and will be expected to put their best foot forward if Sri Lanka is to take up the challenge against the South Africans. Kumar Sangakkara who is known to be more comfortable on wickets of this nature is also expected to add muscle to the Lankan batting line up along with new boy Jehan Mubarak who will be eager to announce his arrival in the big league.

It's more the bounce than the pace that will worry the Lankan batsmen in South Africa. The Lankans are generally comfortable with pace but will have to use their skills and experience to negotiate the bounce. Thus the two side games against Provincial sides will be of immense importance for the Lankan batsmen to gauge the South African wickets.

With a record of seven medium pacers at his disposal Sanath Jayasuriya should not have too much of a worry with his bowlers. It will be certain that the Lankans will use at least three medium pace bowlers in their final line up for the test matches. Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando will be Jayasuriya's first choice bowlers while the other slot will have to be fought out between Ruchira Perera and the four rookie medium pacers Chamila Gamage, Tharanga Lakshita, Thilina Thushara and Sujeewa de Silva.

Despite conditions more suited for medium pacers Sri Lanka will once again look to their record breaking champion off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan to run through the South African batting line up. Murali who is closing in on 450 wickets in a record time is well aware of the vulnerability of the South Africans to spin bowling.

If the off spinner can assert his dominance over the South Africans and the Lankan batsmen can successfully negotiate the pace and the bounce, Sri Lanka is bound to take the fight to the opposition and challenge the South Africans in their own backyard.

The team: Sanath Jayasuriya (Capt),Marvan Atapattu (V. Capt), Kumar Sangakkara,Mahela Jayawardena, Hashan Tillekeratne, Russel Arnold, Jehan Mubarak, Muttiah Muralitharan, Hasantha Fernando, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Sujeewa de Silva, Tharanga Lakshita, Thilina Thushara, Chamila Gamage, Prasanna Jayawardena, Rushira Perera. Manager: Air. Comm Ajith Jayasekera, Cricket Advisor: Duleep Mendis, Coach: Dav Whatmore, Physiotherapist: Alex Kountouri.

Akshayan and Chaturi are top swimmers
Asian International School and Ladies College bagged the boys and girls titles respectively at the National Swimming and Diving Championships which concluded at the Sugathadasa Stadium pool yesterday.

S. Thomas' College Mt.Lavinia were second in the boys events. They were followed by Royal and St. Joseph's in that order.

Mahamaya Girls School, Kandy took second place in the girls events with St. Bridget's Convent coming in third. Museaus and Asian International Schools ended up in fourth and fifth places respectively. Akshayan Rajasingham of Asian International School was adjudged the boys champion while Chaturi Abeykoon of Ladies was the pick amongst the girls.Chanuka Wickremasinghe of Royal College was adjudged the best diver at the event. The overall diving champions of the meet were Royal while in the women's section Royal College Union emerged winners.

In waterpolo S.Thomas' maintained their superiority defeating Air Force in the final. With the Air Force winning the women's tournament. - MSA

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